The Peak District makes a great loving partner.
One way of looking at my relationship with the Peak District, may be that I am married to it. Well at least it feels a bit like that.
A Ruby Anniversary… 40 years on.
It all started at the age of 13 when I would be dropped off at the farm at the top of Winnats Pass with a tent, a geological hammer and some food for a few days. Armed with Geological Survey maps I would hunt out mine workings and try to find Blue John hydrothermal seams as well as minerals discarded as old mine waste. With quite a lot of success back in the day, I returned home with a car full of geological specimens and a glee borne of time spent in the area.
So after a teenage crush and a new love of Rock Climbing as a young man, I would say I became engaged to the Peak District crags in the late 70’s and finally married as an inseparable couple in 1981, when as an adult I moved to Sheffield University and spent all my free time, and most of my lecture time in the Peak burning off the frenzied sweet shop testosterone of youth.
Now as a fifty something year old, I find my enthusiasm for the places and the freedom to run and cycle no less joyous and altogether a great part of my outdoor life. It really does feel like a thing.
A state of Love.
If Love is a state of feeling better when your partner is around, a state of feeling a sense of loss when they aren’t, the ups and downs of joy, pain, emotional turmoil of a life lived together and a strong instinct to care for someone more than yourself… then this will be Love I’m feeling then.
A Torridon affair – a short period of infidelity.
I’d like to confess, that I have strayed on a few occasions. Other National Parks proved quite beguiling. I have had a few affairs with Dartmoor and The Lake District, it was the Scottish Highlands that excited me, the raw attraction of big mountains, the Highlands and Islands that lured me onto the rocks, drawn by the sirens cry of new adventures and new camps to share a bed with. However torrid the cut and thrust of mountain time in Glencoe and the Cairngorms proved, it was a short term pleasure against the dependable warmth that I drew from the Crags of the Eastern Edges and the Villages of Hope Valley. The happy memories of times spent with wonderful people soon eclipsed the splendour and magnificence of Skye, and anyway Whisky isn’t cheating, we were only talking.
It certainly is a special relationship.
I have always felt an emotional bond with the landscape. Along with a great many fellow lovers, I will regularly take time to find quiet and an inner calm in certain places, such as Burbage, Stanage and the bench in Bakewell for eating fish and chips. Special places you go to, to reset and lose the frenzy of mental activity after a hard days work.
It’s a relationship that has built and changed over the years. A familiarity that has grown, been taken for granted, and then lost before being found again with renewed ardour in more recent years.
Art is King
Finding what you love, doing what you love in a place you love seems to be a rare thing, and as an older, hopefully wiser, certainly humbler person, I am so grateful for the opportunity to live my life here, exploring the great natural patterns of nature, the footpaths that lead to new adventures, however seemingly small, every discovery is a lift.
It’s the daft things you seem to remember. I associate Carl’s Wark with many moments, walks with the girl friend, a sunset capturing a moment on a camera, teenage parties even, but the most enduring memory was running across it narrowly dodging three lightening strikes as I fled for lower ground in the late 90’s.
A park for sanity.
After several years of traveling solo, with all its daily challenges, coming back into a more social life required certain adjustments, and took a great deal of time and care to understand and manage mental activity in the presence of others. The Peak District really did offer a wonderful choice of psychiatrists’ couches around the region. Certain human relationships proved less reliable against the more predictable permanence of a Gritstone crag and a seat with a view that doesn’t answer back.
Finding love again and settling down after traveling.
I had a need to set up a new Business and a need to settle down. Friends’ encouragement and fresh eyes on the previously familiar finally saw me see sense and return to Hathersage, the one I loved.
The Peak District never judged me, just quietly waited for familiar habits to return and the old ways and activities to rekindle the flame. Sparks were found discovering and running new trails and a drone for photography provided the kindling that ignited the passion that drew me back to mother gritstone and the love of my life.
It’s all about people.
The lesson I have learned above all else is that life is all about people for me. Loneliness is a living hell. After traveling for years and setting up businesses, it takes a toll and it is hard. You want to be sociable, but these endeavours require sacrifice. I believe I am so lucky to have found a place now where I am never alone, warmed by the richness of others’ conversation and the give and take of listening and talking.
It seems to me, that experiences really don’t mean very much at the time if you are alone. On several occasions I have been privileged enough to witness extraordinary natural phenomenon, wild birds flocking, rain showers, rainbows and sunsets that are unforgettable. A camera is great, and a very important way to record this, but sharing the moment would have been so much better. I believe it really is true, that we are social, pack creatures and we need others.
I will end this brief insight into the world of Si with a loving sentiment. Yes – I am married to the Park, no doubt about it, but I am also very much tied to those close friends, pals, acquaintances and special people around me with whom I can share the activities and wonders of the great open spaces, villages and sublime beauty of everything Peak District.